GOP’s Schilling Leads Democrat Incumbent Phil Hare, 45-32

Few of my assessments in this cycle have met with more derision than my argument that Phil Hare, an Illinois Democrat, is supremely vulnerable.

His GOP opponent, Bobby Schilling, hired Magellan Strategies to conduct a poll of the district. Magellan conducted an automated survey of 715 likely voters in the 17th congressional district of Illinois: “The interviews were conducted on July 12th of 2010. This [poll has] a margin of error of +/‐ 3.6% at the 95% confidence interval. The survey results are weighted to reflect past turnout demographics from the 2008, 2006, 2004 and 2002 general election cycles.”

If you’re a skeptic of campaign-commissioned polls, fine. But note that the unemployment rate in Illinois is 10.4 percent (it was 10.8 percent last month), the state is sick of the machine politics that put Rod Blagojevich in place, and the national mood is frustrated and angry. Just how unlikely is it that Phil Hare would be in trouble?

“If the election for Congress was being held today, and all you knew about the two candidates was that one was a Republican, and the other was a Democrat, for whom would you vote?” Among all voters, 44% support the generic Republican candidate for Congress and 35% support the generic Democrat candidate.

Phil Hare’s image rating is “upside down,” with 27% of voters having a favorable opinion of him, and 41% having an unfavorable opinion of him.

Among all voters, 27% approve of the job Phil Hare is doing and 43% disapprove.

Among all voters, only 24% responded they would reelect Phil Hare, 50% think it is time to give someone else a chance to do a better job and 26% are undecided on the question.

“If the election for Congress was being held today, for whom would you vote if the candidates were Bobby Schilling, Republican, or Phil Hare, Democrat?” Among all voters, Bobby Schilling leads Phil Hare, 45% to 32%, and 23% are undecided. The bulk of Bobby Schilling’s support is being driven by male voters. Among men, Bobby Schilling leads Phil Hare by 28 points, 54% to 26%. Among women, it is a much closer race, with Bobby Schilling leading by 1 point, 37% to 36%, and 27% are undecided.

Even if this poll overstates Schilling’s support by 10 percentage points . . . he’s still ahead. For those who gripe that Magellan is a partisan firm, note their Maryland gubernatorial numbers seem to be in the ballpark of nonpartisan pollsters.

Bobby Schilling’s website can be found here. Keep an eye on this race. Either I’m way ahead of the pack in finding one of 2010′s most unlikely upsets, or this poll is completely wrong.

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